Ever wonder what it is like covering the biggest college football game of the season? Janaé Bradford invited Amanda Christovich from FrontOffice Sports to speak with her about her experience covering the business of the big game.
Covering college football isn’t just about covering the X’s and O’s. College football has become an enterprise in itself that reporters should not shy away from covering. Christovich tells us how she started covering the business of sports and how businesses have noticed the significant demand for college football. She notes that reporting on the college championship continues long after the game has been called.
Christovich covers everything from gender equity and sports labor issues to name, image, and likeness — and was recently named one of LinkedIn’s top five creators of the week for my NIL stories. Check out more by Christovich on Twitter, FrontOffice Sports, or her website.
JANAÉ BRADFORD: Hello everyone. My name is Janae Bradford and I am a graduate assistant here at the Reynolds Center for Business Journalism. College Sports is a huge business. And I wanted to know what it’s like covering one of the biggest sporting events of the year, the 2023 College Football National Championship. I talked with Amanda Christovich, a reporter at Front Office Sports, who covers the business of sports. She was previously interned with the Wall Street Journal, and USA Today. And during our interview, she told me what it was like covering the business of college sports.
AMANDA CHRISTOVICH: So, I was in grad school in March of 2020, when COVID changed everything. And I was supposed to graduate two months later. And so when we all graduated, there were no sports, let alone sports jobs. And the only publications that were hiring were business sports business publications, because those were the only places where there was news, like in the sports industry, literally like the sports sections of local newspapers had, like, been moved over to the news side to cover COVID.
BRADFORD: Luckily, for Christovich, her work on college sports made her stand out on applications in search of new employees. Front Office Sports posted their application on Twitter, looking for someone knowledgeable about college sports. Without question, Christovich’s experience has prepared her well to cover the big event.
CHRISTOVICH: It’s a season long process and it’s a career long process of like, understanding how money works in an industry. And I think that that’s like a skill that everyone should have no matter what they cover, whether it be sports or not business or not. Understanding how the money flows is always going to lead you to interesting stories. And that’s something you learned, you know, I learned on the job or I learned in school or a combination of both right? You just do your reporting through the whole year. And then by the time you get to the national championship, or the playoffs or whatever, what have you, March Madness, you’re aware of the way the business works, which will help you look and find stories.
BRADFORD: The profitable industry is constantly changing. The 2023 championship is the epitome of a sporting event with layers of business stories that might be noticeable, but not always explained. The activity behind the scenes depicting how Georgia and TCU have grown throughout the season drove the purpose of Christovich’s reporting.
CHRISTOVICH: I was really focused on I guess, kind of the fact that this is the second to last four-team college football playoff. Because like leading up to it I was covering, like the 12-team model, the sort of question about what that might mean for the future of bowl games, that sort of thing. And then, as the playoff sort of got into full swing, and when the new year six games all were played, I sort of focused on looking at how, you know, a win can impact a school, a conference, a college football playoff from a financial standpoint, from a business standpoint.
BRADFORD: Money was flowing to both Georgia and TCU’s programs throughout the playoffs. TCU’s conference, the Big 12 will receive $6 million for their Fiesta Bowl appearance. TCU made even more money before the playoffs though. According to an ESPN source in Christovich’s story, “With TCU in the CFP championship, everyone wins,” the school received roughly $2.5 billion in media exposure.
CHRISTOVICH: So Nielsen just put out their top TV rankings for 2022, right? So in the sports realm, it was something like the first like 32 38, in the 30s were the NFL. One of the only other sports that broke into the top 50 was college football. So, it’s safe to say that not only is the United States obsessed with the NFL, but they’re also obsessed with college football. And the TV networks are seeing that that is only increasing. So the value, you know, it’s like when the value of the NFL goes up. So today is the value of college sports. So in the big 10 There is a like mid 7 billion media rights deal, right? It’s more than a billion a year across three networks. The SEC has similarly gargantuan deals with ESPN and Disney. You know the big 12 just signed a new deal that is not quite as lucrative as those of the big 10 and the SEC but it’s still going to be paying out like 30, you know between 30 and 40 mil million a year to each school for example.
BRADFORD: Why is the demand for college football so strong? Unlike professional leagues, there are more collegiate teams to identify with and support. Families pass down the fandom to younger generations, who later would do the same for their kids. Student athletes being younger also allows fans to connect with them on an age level, or be impressed by their skills early in their careers. The more people establish their interest in college football, the more businesses will take the opportunity to be a part of the mix. Now cities put themselves in conversations to host these games with hopes of financial gain.
CHRISTOVICH: It’s safe to say I mean, like, the local officials in LA assumed that it would bring like millions of dollars and you know, people buying lunch and dinner, people staying in the hotels, renting cars, like literally all the big and little things together. And that is the case, you know, for a lot of different cities, although the one thing I will say that it’s important to know is that with, you know, the revenue that you generate, but as a city by hosting one of these events, you also are like there’s a lot of costs associated with it. For example, a lot of cities like beef up their police force, like you know what I mean, like they have just like extra security they have, you know, the costs of putting on the event in addition to the revenue, so it’s really hard to say, but it’s good marketing for tourism either way.
BRADFORD: There wasn’t a cost for the game being less competitive, and finishing with the largest point difference in college football championship history. The Georgia Bulldogs became back to back champions with the 65-7 win, and are in conversations about being the next dynasty. With that comes more NIL deals and attention to the program. The conversation for TCU will look different. However, their hard work won’t go to waste as a program after making it this far in the playoffs.
CHRISTOVICH: But like a school like TCU I mean, they got to the national championship in a four-team playoff, okay? They’re a part of a conference that has not gotten to a national championship game in this current setup, despite the fact that it’s a Power 5 conference. It’s one of the top five conferences in the country, right.? So I don’t think that TCU losing is going to deter the momentum. Obviously, getting blown out is not ideal. But like they weren’t even ranked and they made it to the national championship. That’s absolutely going to galvanize the community that has already put money into new facilities, you know, I mean, they’ve given their head football coach a raise and an extension, like all of that is not going to go away just because they lost the national championship.
BRADFORD: That was Amanda Chrisovich from Front Office Sports, sharing her experience covering the business of college football. To keep up with her work, you can visit frontofficesports.com or check out her portfolio at amandachristovich.wixsite.com. Thank you all for tuning in. From Phoenix, I’m Janae Bradford with the Reynolds Center.